The New American Victory Garden, Defined

Quite a number of you have emailed me, asking questions about The New American Victory Garden, the presentation I just gave at the New York Botanical Garden.

So, here’s the scoop:

First of all, what do you mean by Victory Garden? You’re not talking about your old PBS TV show, are you?


This period poster, one of several in my personal collection, is typical of the WWII effort exhorting patriotic Americans to grow their own produce.

No, not the show. I’m referring to the term Victory Garden, which was coined during the First World War to describe the government-led effort to encourage people on the home front to grow their own fruits and vegetables. The theory was that every pound of produce produced locally meant a pound of commercially produced produce freed up for use by the troops. (Say that a few times fast!) This campaign was re-instituted, and considerably expanded, during WWII with huge success: by 1944 almost half of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the US was grown in Victory Gardens.

After the war ended, commercial crops again flooded the market, and the financial incentive for growing food in your own backyard diminished substantially. As with everything, however, what’s old is eventually new again, and with the latest round of national financial disasters, people have once more begun to cast a critical eye towards growing a portion of their food budget. In addition, the Victory Garden concept has been given considerable help by the Green movement, as vegetables raised on your own property obviously don’t have to be shipped across huge distances – thereby saving a considerable amount of petroleum for each pound of backyard produce. Add to this the vastly superior selection, taste and quality of homegrown crops, and you have an unbeatable combination for the 21 century.

tomato bucket copySo what’s new about my New American Victory Garden?

Well, first of all, for many of us, the entire process of raising your own food is one of discovery, or perhaps more accurately, rediscovery, as by and large even we gardeners have forgotten the tricks required to bring a successful crop to table. Vegetables are not difficult to grow, but they’re not easy either, and my talk shows you some concise and easy-to-implement methods to insure an ample harvest. Secondarily, in vegetable gardening, as in any other hobby, it’s easy to get carried away and lose site of the economics. Add in a few gizmos, a bit horticultural of glamor and glitter, plus an expensive toy or two, and suddenly your desire to produce a few fresh tomatoes has morphed into several hundred dollars of money-losing enterprise. In my talk, I  show you how to avoid these pitfalls, and produce delicious, truly cost-effective food for your table.

So are you giving this talk again any time soon?

Yes, coming this winter and early spring to a home and garden show near you!


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